The Unfinished Peninsula

February 23, 2011

Millfields Park comes to an abrupt halt at the Lea Canal. It’s as if the city drops away. Across the water is a builders yard consisting of concrete, weeds, and a corregated fence crested with wire. A variety of bird life gathers on this peninsula: crows, swans, geese, cormorants, ducks, seagulls, pigeons, herons.

Occasionally the canal dredgers moor here. Diggers come to lift out the black mud. A few men in hard hats jab at clipboards. But most of the time there’s nothing to see. Only piles of rubble.

This place is one of those places you could describe as ‘neither here nor there’ and be entirely accurate. It’s the sketch of an idea waiting to happen. A town planner’s doodle in pencil on a Friday afternoon.

“What the hell is this, Perkins?”

“Sir, I’ve not decided what to do with this bit of London yet, sir. Ran out of time. It’s just a scribble really.”

“And these – what are these?”

“I’ve drawn a selection of common British birds, Sir. They’re nice, aren’t they?”

“Christ almighty, Perkins. It’s a bloody mess. But this’ll have to do.”

Benches are placed on the towpath so you can sit and stare across the canal at this concrete nothingness, soak up the in-between-ness of it all. But not many people do. It’s an acquired taste.

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